Venice Is Sinking – AZAR Review
Venice Is Sinking came to my attention some years ago with their first release, Sorry About the Flowers, a charming, symphonic gem of a pop album that, while slightly underdone and rough around the edges, showcased the band’s wealth of passion and potential.
Three years later, after a long and laborious recording process, that passion has been channeled and the potential realized. AZAR does the seemingly impossible: the band has created a lushly orchestrated and grandiose chamber pop opus without any bullshit. And for an album interspersed with four orchestral instrumental interludes and each bearing the album’s title, that is one hell of an accomplishment.
The most striking thing about AZAR is how from the first note of “Ryan’s Song,” each note is delicately and precisely placed; even the most minute wisps of music have each their own purpose, and the arrangements are grand and subtle, rewarding repeated listens. In a music world that bafflingly encourages bands like The Decemberists, this lack of pretension makes AZAR stand out further from the chamber pop crowd.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of AZAR is its textures. Guitarist Daniel Lawson’s and violinist Karolyn Troupe’s parts and melodies shine out against a murky backdrop, as if the two are a folk duo playing in front of a 20th century film revue. The melange is so lush and varied that the band seem to be pulling from hundreds of sources all at once. Too-easy comparisons like Low and Yo La Tengo come to mind at first, but the distant, implacable connections supply the album’s most affecting moments – “Iron Range” seems to be culled from every song ever recorded about strength in sadness, and its emotional pull is AZAR‘s caulk and balls.
In summary: an absolutely wonderful record.